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Unbearably Fluffy (An Apology in Advance)

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Surprisingly, Bear doesn’t want to go in the water today, so Fusco just sits next to him on the shore while Lee cavorts with the other kids who’ve come out for some summer fun.

A ways down the beach, Carter’s ex is sitting on a towel. Taylor’s in the water near Lee; neither seems to recognize the other. They’ve met, sure, at various functions, but it’s not like they were gonna strike up a friendship, not with that age gap; peer groups and all.

When Bear rolls onto his back, angling for a scratch, Fusco obliges. He watches Taylor for a while. Watches Taylor keep his distance from the other kids. Not much. Just enough to be noticeable, at least from back here. And Fusco isn’t sure how, what’s the word, how introverted he was to begin with; maybe that’s his normal. (He’d wonder if it’s a race thing, but the kids here are all different shades, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference to Taylor.)

“His mom’s a hero,” Fusco mutters, with only Bear to hear him. “He’s gonna grow up hearing that, all the time. Maybe he’ll even get sick of it.” It’s something important, maintaining her good image, though it’ll be a while before it really helps to take the sting away. If it ever does.

“Lee thinks I’m a hero,” Fusco continues, watching his son. Flopping over, Bear rests his head on Fusco’s leg; Fusco buries both hands in his fur, scratching down deep. “I didn’t ask for that,” he says. “His mom started it, back before we broke up. Cops as heroes.” He sighs. “I’ve known too many cops, y’know?”

There’s a lot of good cops. They don’t make up for the bad ones. There’s a lot of cops who are neither -- the kind who show up and do their job and go home again. Fusco’s been all three… or, well, he started out with idealism, bounced back and forth between bad and normal for a while, sunk way down in the mire before Reese pulled him up by the scruff of his neck. Hell, he doesn’t even know what he is anymore. He’s trying to be a good cop again. Probably not good enough, but he’s trying.

Carter died protecting the city, doing what they’d both signed up to do. If there was ever a good way to die -- not a pleasant way to die, but a good way to die -- it was dying to preserve the ideals you lived by. She’d never lost sight of her moral standard, and Taylor has every reason to be proud of his mom.

Bear whuffs; Fusco scratches his ears. “Guess when I die, Lee’s maybe gonna think I died a hero. Until some of the details come out. Stuff I did. Maybe the way I die.” He sighs. “I’ve always been good at this, y’know? I’m a good cop, a skilled cop. But…” He swallows. “Maybe it’s too late for him to stay proud of me.”